The global youth and style publisher i-D, which Vice Media acquired a decade ago in December, has seen substantial upticks in revenue after placing more emphasis on social and commerce content.
The publisher has increased its eight-figure revenue 100% year over year, according to chief revenue officer Geoff Schiller, who wouldn’t share exact numbers. Its commerce business, which generates revenue through affiliate links, merchandise and print magazine sales, has also increased by a double-digit percentage.
The publisher generates roughly 90% of its revenue from advertising, which includes sponsorships across its website, social channels and newsletters.
But it has placed a concerted focus on growing its commerce division, as i-D caters to an audience of young, affluent consumers—a coveted readership for luxury brands looking to age down their customer base.
To do so, the publisher has reduced the amount of pure text content it produces, shifting its editorial mix to include more commerce content and vertical video.
“The mandate has been to go heavier into social-first versus text, and i-D has made a considerable investment in Instagram and TikTok,” Schiller said. “This isn’t throwing darts at the wall: If Gen-Z wants to consume content on social, we need to maximize our presence there.”
The approach reflects the ways in which social-first publishers have adjusted their distribution strategies to prioritize vertical video. And in shepherding followers onto the i-D website, where it hopes to convert them into shoppers, the tactic underscores the importance of commerce to publishers as a means of diversifying their revenue stream.
Building brand at the intersection of content and commerce
i-D, like other Vice Media brands, has historically sought to connect with readers where they prefer to consume content—typically social platforms or video havens like YouTube.
As its audience has shifted to sites that serve vertical video, i-D has followed suit, said Lucy Delacherois-Day, its managing director. In September, the publisher redesigned its website to integrate video directly into its domain.
“We have doubled down on leveraging social for content and commerce in 2022 and will continue to build on this growth and potential into 2023,” said Delacherois-Day.
Year over year, the strategy has worked, netting i-D a 150% increase in followers on Instagram Reels and a 50% growth in followers on TikTok.
By taking advantage of the surge of interest in vertical video, the publisher hopes to capture viewers’ attention on the two platforms and funnel them back to its website, where it can convert them into shoppers.
Compared to the same time last year, i-D has increased its monthly pageviews 85%, according to the publisher. And given that affiliate commerce is, to some extent, a game of numbers, an increase in traffic will almost always lead to an increase in transactions.
Once on-site, readers tend to gravitate to shopping content that channels the i-D ethos, such as a round-up of independent designers from the spring-summer 2023 season or its weekly GUi-DEs, according to Delacherois-Day.
Collaborations and activations aim to grow the U.S. audience
To further draw attention to its commerce offerings, i-D plans to experiment with more merchandise collaborations, which let the publisher reach new audiences and trade on its fashion pedigree.
Partnerships in the last year with celebrities like Rihanna, Travis Scott and Billie Eilish have been rewarding for the publisher, though it wouldn’t share specific results of the campaigns.
On Dec. 6, in partnership with a digital retailer, the publisher will unveil a docuseries podcast called Identity, which will follow the evolution of style. It also has an Art Basel activation planned with designer Marc Jacobs and a fashion month activation in the works for next September, according to Schiller.
The collaborations, in addition to serving as a revenue opportunity, also seek to expand the brand awareness of i-D in the U.S., where 50% of its audience lives. The publisher hopes that by expanding its presence in North America, it will heighten its commercial ceiling.
“i-D has been the best-kept secret in the U.S. because it is a global brand, but we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” Schiller said. “We’re looking to make a big splash next year.”